By Nancy Bennett
Looking for a new exercise routine that makes you feel good and helps to work your whole body without feeling like its been put through a triathlon? Tied in knots from too many frustrating days of an overworked mind and unmoving body? Looking for a way to bring better posture and more lift to your life? Yoga might be just the thing for you. Whether recuperating from an illness or just wanting to make a healthy life style change, yoga offers many options for you to explore. But with so many types of yoga out there it is hard to know which one is best. Here are some of the more popular forms of yoga, and what they can offer for you.
This type of yoga is open to people of many physical abilities and types. It looks into aligning the body with a tie into positive thoughts and flow. People who take ansurara classes often find them fun and relaxing, with a low impact workout and lots of community spirit. If you want to celebrate your heart and reawaken your body, then this type of hatha yoga is for you. Great for beginners or for those who have not been physically active for a time.
Bikram or Hot Yoga
Bikram or Hot yoga uses the technique of warm humid classes and 26 different poses for teaching and maintaining proper body alignment. If you can handle the heat (up to 40 degrees Celsius, 105 F), and are interested in improving your posture and breathing Bikram might be for you.
Despite being very popular, it is not a good yoga for beginners, as the fast pace and the heat can make things more intense. Pushing your body into the rigid postures sometimes needed can place stress on your muscles unless you are body aware and in shape. Therefor this yoga is only recommended for those with yoga experience or are in good physical condition. It is also advised to try it in the cooler fall or winter months first, before committing to this highly stimulating path.
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga
If you think yoga is for powderpuffs into chanting, think again. Ashtanga is a fast moving, physically demanding type of yoga, helpful for body sculpting, fitness training and toning of muscles. Using posing and stretching, Ashtanga will test your body to the max. As the pace can be quite demanding it is recommended that you have some athletic ability, or a level of fitness before you start.
Ready to embrace both your physical and spiritual well being? Kundalini is the right mix for you. Using breathing, chanting and rhythmic movements, Kundalini strengthens both body and the soul, as chakras are opened and spiritual bliss is rediscovered. Kundalini focuses on developing self awareness and opening up your intuition.
In this type of yoga you will be taught a variety of fixed postures, which may be physically taxing, so it is best to seek out an instructor who allows for some flexibility in the approach. If you feel mentally blocked, or are looking for a way to tap into your creative cosmos, then Kundalini is the yoga for you. Good for all levels, but make sure the program offered is for beginners if you are one, or consult the instructor on how your skills relate to the others in the class to make sure you are a good fit.
Any yoga advertised as Hatha is a great yoga for beginners, with emphasis on slow paced movements and spiritual well being. To reconnect with yourself and to ease your body into a more healthier place, Hatha is recommended for those who are new to yoga, or are recuperating and want to try some low impact cleansing exercises.
Other Types of Yoga and How to Find the Right Yoga Class For You
These are only a few of the many options available to someone who wants to give yoga a try. You can also look into Vinyasa, Iyengar, Kripauli, and many others. Check with your local gym, seniors center or the Y and see if they offer classes. You can also see if there are private courses available aimed at your particular needs. For example if you have back problems try to find a yoga course aimed at back care.
If you’re feeling shy you can also find many private instructors who offer classes or even drop in sessions. Drop ins are a great way to “try before you buy” and if you are unsure about what type of yoga is right for you, why not give a few of these a try before committing to a full course?
A Final Word From a Yoga Instructor
Yoga helps reduce pain, aids in sleeping, and generally makes you feel more focused and refreshed in your day to day routine. It can even lead you onto a new life path, as in the case of my friend , Victoria-based Yoga instructor Kathryn Kusyszyn. I asked her why yoga was a great choice for her.
“I do yoga to improve my life as I’ve found that in addition to the physical benefits, it reduces anxiety and improves my mood. Paying attention to my body and spirit regularly helps balance my overactive mind and encourages me to find my own rhythm. Greater freedom on all levels is the result and inspiration to share this joy with others led me to pursue teaching.”
About the Author: Nancy V Bennett divides her time between her farm ( Three Sisters Farm) on Vancouver Island and writing articles on a wide variety of subjects. Her work has appeared in over 400 publications, including Dogs In Canada, HR Luxury Magazine and Reunions Magazine. She is an avid heirloom gardener and promoter of saving and sharing seeds, especially rare and endangered tomato and sweet pea varieties.